Eavan Boland takes leading role at America’s biggest poetry festival

Eavan BolandIt looks like the New York metropolitan area is getting the best of the Irish literary festival scene at the moment.

A reading including John Montague and Pulitzer-winning American poet C.K. Williams is the highlight of the Irish Arts Center PoetryFest in a couple of weeks’ time, while last weekend saw Eavan Boland take on a leading role in the Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark, which is described as the biggest poetry gathering in the United States.

Speaking about Boland, the Dublin-born 68-year-old who has been a Professor of English at Stanford University in California for the past 16 years, Dodge organiser Martin Farawell told the New Jersey Star-Ledger:

[Boland] has become a really powerful, unique voice. She is treating the details, the tribulations of the inner life of a married woman, raising children, and elevating them to the same level as ‘male’ subjects, like war.

In one of a couple of discussion-led “workshops” (my quotation marks – I’m not sure what exactly to call them), Boland was alongside Philip Levine, the 83-year-old US Poet Laureate, and husband and wife poets Joseph Millar and Dorianne Laux under the banner “Poetry and the Working Life”.

Eavan Boland isn’t the only Irish female writer earning star billing Stateside, with Claire Keegan taking in at least a couple of stops over the next week or so.

Keegan’s work, whose back catalogue includes the short story collections “Antarctica” and “Walk the Blue Fields” and the novella “Foster”, features in an evening of short fiction introduced by Granta editor John Freeman and renowned writer David Mitchell – no, not that one – in Symphony Space on Broadway on Wednesday evening (October 17th). Exactly one week later she will return to her alma mater Loyola University in New Orleans.

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